BioRisk 7: 73-97, doi: 10.3897/biorisk.7.1969
A framework for a European network for a systematic environmental impact assessment of genetically modified organisms (GMO)
Frieder Graef, Joerg Roembke, Rosa Binimelis, Anne I. Myhr, Angelika Hilbeck, Broder Breckling, Tommy Dalgaard, Ulrich Stachow, Georgina V. Catacora, Thomas Bøhn, David Quist, Béla Darvas, Gert Dudel, Bernadette Oehen, Hartmut Meyer, Klaus Henle, Brian Wynne, Marc Metzger, Silvio Knäbe, Josef Settele, András Székács, Angelika Wurbs, Jeannette Bernard, Donal Murphy-Bokern, Marcello Buiatti, Manuela Giovannetti, Marko Debeljak, Erling Andersen, Andreas Paetz, Saso Dzeroski, Beatrix Tappeser, Cornelis A.M. van Gestel, Werner Wosniok, Gilles-Eric Séralini, Iulie Aslaksen, Roland Pesch, Stanislav Maly, Armin Werner

The assessment of the impacts of growing genetically modified (GM) crops remains a major political and scientific challenge in Europe. Concerns have been raised by the evidence of adverse and unexpected environmental effects and differing opinions on the outcomes of environmental risk assessments (ERA). The current regulatory system is hampered by insufficiently developed methods for GM crop safety testing and introduction studies. Improvement to the regulatory system needs to address the lack of well designed GM crop monitoring frameworks, professional and financial conflicts of interest within the ERA research and testing community, weaknesses in consideration of stakeholder interests and specific regional conditions, and the lack of comprehensive assessments that address the environmental and socio-economic risk assessment interface. To address these challenges, we propose a European Network for systematic GMO impact assessment (ENSyGMO) with the aim directly to enhance ERA and post-market environmental monitoring (PMEM) of GM crops, to harmonize and ultimately secure the long-term socio-political impact of the ERA process and the PMEM in the EU. These goals would be achieved with a multi-dimensional and multi-sector approach to GM crop impact assessment, targeting the variability and complexity of the EU agro-environment and the relationship with relevant socio-economic factors. Specifically, we propose to develop and apply methodologies for both indicator and field site selection for GM crop ERA and PMEM, embedded in an EU-wide typology of agro-environments. These methodologies should be applied in a pan-European field testing network using GM crops. The design of the field experiments and the sampling methodology at these field sites should follow specific hypotheses on GM crop effects and use state-of-the art sampling, statistics and modelling approaches. To address public concerns and create confidence in the ENSyGMO results, actors with relevant specialist knowledge from various sectors should be involved.